As investigators worked Monday to determine what caused the fatal helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, audio recordings of air traffic controllers revealed that the pilot of the luxury chopper was given clearance to fly in worse than normal weather without relying on instruments to guide him.

Shortly before the helicopter crashed on a remote hillside Sunday, the pilot was approved for what’s known as special visual flight rules, according to audio reviewed by The Washington Post.

The recordings will feature in what is expected to be a broad investigation into a crash that shook the sports world, leaving a stunned community of players and fans that continued to come to grips with the loss of the former Los Angeles Lakers star as Monday turned to Tuesday.

The NBA announced that it had canceled the Tuesday night game between the Lakers and Clippers, who also play at home at the Staples Center. The game will be rescheduled at a later date, according to a league statement Monday. The Lakers had formally petitioned the league for the postponement.

Eight games were played Sunday after news of Bryant’s death broke, and they featured tributes to him such as intentional 24- and 8-second clock violations in honor of his two jersey numbers. Some players, though, said they wished the NBA had postponed all of its games Sunday.

“It’s bigger than basketball,” the Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas said after a loss Sunday to the Hawks. “It’s hard to even talk about it. The NBA should’ve just canceled all the games today, for real.”

On Monday, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board said the helicopter’s pilot advised air traffic controllers that he was “climbing to avoid a cloud layer” before the incident. The aircraft didn’t have a black box. The federal agency expects to be at the site for five days.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Monday said his staff had secured the perimeter of the scene, after having had an “inordinate amount of interest in accessing the crash site by unauthorized personnel.” The area was being patrolled by deputies on horseback and on all-terrain vehicles, according to Villanueva.

The investigation will examine weather data, radar information, air traffic control communications, maintenance logs and the pilot’s record, said NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

Find live updates from Monday below.

● Weather conditions and past aviation accidents shed light on the fatal crash.

● NBA teams honored Bryant on Sunday night with poignant shot-clock violations.

● Mourners gathered Monday at Lower Merion High School, where Bryant played as a teenager.

● The NBA on Monday postponed a Lakers-Clippers game that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

3:57 a.m.
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‘I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!' LeBron James writes on Instagram

In his first public comments since the death of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James said he was “heartbroken and devastated,” and vowed to continue Bryant’s legacy. James made his comments Monday night on Instagram.

“[I’m] sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!” James wrote. Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna, who was also known as Gigi, also died in Sunday’s crash.

On Saturday, James passed Bryant for third all-time in the NBA’s scoring annals, as the Lakers lost to the 76ers in Philadelphia. After that game, James heaped praise on Bryant as “one of the all-time great basketball players.” In turn, Bryant’s final tweet, posted Saturday night, lauded James for “continuing to move the game forward.”

“I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA," James wrote on Instagram. "Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”

3:25 a.m.
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U-Conn. honors Gianna Bryant, a potential recruit

Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna was honored Monday at the start of an exhibition game between the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team and the U.S. national team. The 13-year-old was a promising basketball player.

Before the game, held at Hartford’s XL Center, a U-Conn. jersey with the No. 2 — worn by Gianna Bryant on her youth-league team — was draped over a seat on the Huskies’ bench. A 24-second moment of silence, in honor of Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey, was held as the arena displayed a photo of the two of them.

Gianna and Kobe Bryant had attended a U-Conn. game in March and both wore Huskies shirts for the occasion.

“From what I saw,” Gabby Williams, a WNBA player and former Huskies star, said Monday (via the Hartford Courant), “she was going to be heaps better than me.”

“She had the right mentality, so confident, relentless, so mean and aggressive,” Williams said of Gigi Bryant. “And then (she would) walk off the court with the biggest, sweetest smile on her face. But my favorite part about her was just seeing how much she loved the game and loved to learn."

2:40 a.m.
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Super Bowl Media Night starts with moment of silence

At Super Bowl Media Night, held in South Florida on Monday, there was a moment of silence for Bryant, whose picture was shown on a scoreboard at Marlins Park.

“I didn’t idolize nobody but Kobe Bryant,” said Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark, who grew up in Southern California. “He’s an L.A. king, and he’ll always be one.”

The Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

“He’s the Michael Jordan of my era,” Chiefs safety Jordan Lucas said. “I grew up watching him. I took the fadeaway shot from him when I played basketball. I loved it. I loved everything about his game. It’s just so sad.”

Lucas looked to the stadium ceiling, and his voice broke.

“He’s gone. His daughter’s gone. And now he left behind his wife and three kids. I’m a father myself, and I couldn’t imagine not being here for my wife and my kid.”

2:10 a.m.
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Helicopter pilot climbed to avoid ‘cloud layer’ before crash, NTSB says

A member of the National Transportation Safety Board team sent to investigate the crash site said Monday the helicopter pilot advised air traffic controllers that he was “climbing to avoid a cloud layer” shortly before the crash.

“When ATC asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply,” said Jennifer Homendy, a member of the NTSB who spoke at a news conference along with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Radar data indicated that the helicopter climbed from 1,400 feet to to 2,300 feet then began a “left descending turn,” according to Homendy. It lost radar contact soon thereafter. The impact crater is at 1,085 feet above sea level on a hillside, she said, with the helicopter’s fuselage, main rotor and part of the tail ending up in separate areas of a debris field that is about 500 to 600 feet long.

Homendy said the helicopter did not have a black box, which could have provided crucial flight data, and that the devices are not required in such aircrafts. Investigators did find an iPad with a flight plan and other information used by the pilot, Ara Zobayan.

The NTSB will examine will look at “man, machine and the environment” while examining the incident, according to Homendy. She asked for the public’s help in providing photos of weather conditions in the area around the time of the crash. The NTSB expects to be at the site for five days, she said.

Villanueva told reporters that his staff had secured the perimeter of the scene, after having had an “inordinate amount of interest in accessing the crash site by unauthorized personnel.” He said the area was being patrolled by deputies on horseback and on all-terrain vehicles, and described it as “dangerous, even in daytime,” because of its rugged nature.

Villanueva said that coroners started to recover remains from the site on Sunday night and will continue to do so for the next several days.

12:30 a.m.
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Bryant once spoke of desire to ‘die young,’ Tracy McGrady says

Kobe Bryant “used to say all the time, ‘I want to die young,’ ” Tracy McGrady claimed Monday in an interview on ESPN’s “The Jump.”

Acknowledging that it “sounds crazy,” McGrady insisted that Bryant had said it. According to McGrady, a seven-time all-star, Bryant would say: ”I want to be immortalized and, you know, have my career be better than Michael Jordan, and I want to die young.’ ”

”And I thought he was just so crazy for saying that," McGrady added.

A friend of Bryant’s as well as an on-court rival, McGrady shed tears during his ESPN appearance.

After “The Jump” host Rachel Nichols suggested that the comment about dying young was “totally in line with young Kobe” but not the older, more family-oriented Bryant, McGrady agreed.

“Clearly that statement was way before kids,” McGrady said. “I’m sure once he had kids, he didn’t have that mindset.”

McGrady said that he and Bryant drifted apart as their careers progressed but that they reconnected more recently because of their children’s involvement in youth league basketball. He spoke fondly and with emotion about being impressed with the hoops skills of Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who also died in Sunday’s helicopter crash.

“She was special,” McGrady said. “She was built like Kobe, her mannerisms, everything. Just to watch her play was like watching a young Kobe. The moves. She had a fadeaway at 13 years old. I’m watching this girl, and it just looks like her dad out there, and I’m like, ‘Damn, she’s gonna be special.’

”And she’s not going to get that opportunity," he continued. “He’s not going to get that chance for her to carry on that legacy.”

11:02 p.m.
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NBA postpones Lakers-Clippers game that was scheduled for Tuesday

The NBA has postponed the Los Angeles Lakers’ Tuesday night game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday,” the NBA said in a statement.

There was internal debate among Lakers decision-makers about how to handle Tuesday’s game, as they weighed playing so that the public grieving process could begin against postponing the game out of respect for Bryant’s family, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Lakers eventually formally petitioned the league for the postponement.

9:14 p.m.
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ESPN to broadcast Bryant’s final game Monday night

ESPN announced it would re-air the final game of Bryant’s career Monday night at 9 p.m. Bryant scored 60 points for the Lakers in that game, played in April 2016, against the Utah Jazz.

To accommodate the re-broadcast, ESPN moved the Kansas-Oklahoma State men’s basketball game to ESPN2 and said it would start Australian Open coverage on ESPNews.

The Post’s Allyson Chiu and Katie Shepherd wrote about that game, noting that “as the clock wound down, Bryant was relentless, driving around defenders to the hoop and taking shots left and right. Then, with just over 30 seconds to go, Bryant pulled up and fired off a midrange jumper to give the Lakers a one-point lead. Two made free throws and an assist later, Bryant had secured 60 points for himself, and even better, a 101-96 victory for his team.”

8:31 p.m.
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‘Devastated and heartbroken,’ Allen Iverson shares rookie memory

Allen Iverson issued a lengthy statement Monday, reminding fans that he and Bryant entered the league together in 1996 as part of one of the deepest draft classes in NBA history. Iverson was selected first overall by the Sixers; Bryant was taken 13th by the Hornets (and then famously traded to the Lakers).

Iverson recalled his first road trip to Los Angeles during his rookie season, illustrating the different paths the two players took to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“He came to my hotel, picked me up and took me to a restaurant,” Iverson said in his written statement. “When we returned before he left, he asked me, ‘what are you going to do tonight’? My reply was, ‘I’m going to the club, what are you going to do?’ He said, ‘I’m going to the gym.’

“That is who he always was, a true student of the game of basketball and also the game of life. He prepared relentlessly.”

The two were among the league’s biggest stars for a generation of fans and memorably clashed in the 2001 NBA Finals, where the Lakers topped the Sixers four games to one.

Like so many, Iverson expressed condolences for Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, his surviving children and the other victims of the crash.

“As a father, I cannot wrap my head around how they must feel,” he wrote. “We are not okay. But we will find the strength to pull through this together because that what Kobe would want us to do.”

8:11 p.m.
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Patrick Ewing recalls Bryant’s work ethic, friendship

Patrick Ewing found out about Bryant's death after practice at Georgetown Sunday, when the head coach returned to his office and found his phones inundated with text messages asking if the news was true.

“It's a tremendous loss, he wasn't just an athlete. He's a person who transcended sport,” Ewing said Monday.

Ewing and Bryant overlapped for six years as NBA players between 1996 and 2002. Ewing was on court, in fact, for Bryant's first point as a pro in November 1996, a free throw against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. But what the hall of fame center remembers most is the time they shared after their playing days were over.

Ewing was an assistant coach in Orlando when Bryant, in the area on a family vacation to Disney World, called the Magic to ask if he could use their facilities to work out.

“While he was on vacation that week, every day in the morning he would come in and work out at 5 a.m.," Ewing said. “That showed his drive to be the best he could possibly be, and things like that as a coach, you want your guys to … that’s the work ethic that you try to give them, tell them, show them, talk to them about. A lot of people talk about wanting to be the best, but he put the work in."

During Bryant's final season, Ewing was working with the Charlotte Hornets when the Lakers came to town. The pair got together after the game to talk, Ewing said.

“He and I sat there and just reminisced about, you know, the battles that we had and what he was going to do in his post-playing career,” Ewing said. “In my era, when we were playing against guys, you try not to develop a great bond or a great friendship unless they’re people that you grew up with. But it was great to just sit down and talk to him and get to know him. Not just as somebody I was competing against, but somebody that you would like for your son to be like.”

7:46 p.m.
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Caron Butler: ‘I’m going to miss my big brother’

Caron Butler played alongside Kobe Bryant in 2004-05 with the Lakers, but that was just the start of their friendship. Butler was among many in the tightknit NBA fraternity struggling to process the news Monday of Bryant’s death. Butler broke down in tears remembering his friend during an interview on CNN.

“I immediately just started crying,” he said. “And I called his phone number over and over again, you know, hoping for a different … result or answer or text."

Butler’s voice quivered and tears ran down his face as he recalled the pair’s relationship and the mentorship Bryant so often provided.

“I'm going to miss my big brother,” he said.

Butler played for nine teams in 14 seasons, including six with the Wizards, before retiring in 2016. Even in retirement, he said, he communicated weekly with Bryant.

“He always made time even when he didn’t have time,” he said. “I think that’s the beauty of Kobe Bryant. I know right now people are focusing on the legacy of numbers, and I want to step away from numbers and just talk about him as a human being. He was a special man, he was a special father, he’s an incredible husband, an incredible brother and mentor."

7:35 p.m.
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What we know about the weather conditions, pertinent flight rules

Weather conditions in the crash area on Sunday “featured fog and mist, with reduced visibilities likely obscuring hills,” the Capital Weather Gang’s Matthew Cappucci writes. The Post also reported that the pilot received clearance to fly in worse than normal weather conditions.

So what do know about Sunday’s conditions and the flight rules that were governing the helicopter’s operation at the time, and how they might have contributed to the disaster? Cappucci breaks down Sunday’s ill-fated flight here, talking to experts and examining some of the available weather and flight data.

An excerpt:

At 9:44 a.m., the helicopter began to ascend rapidly, climbing 875 feet vertically in the following 36 seconds. That’s a rapid ascent rate — one that [Jerry Kidrick, a 35-year Army helicopter veteran and a professor of advanced helicopter operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University] describes as a “spatial disorientation profile.”
“That pace at which he climbed indicates he’s trying to get out of there, or he got spatially disoriented,” said Kidrick. “That’s a very common thing [investigators] find post-crash, the pilot makes rapid corrections and rapid maneuvering... he does something radical to try to change that. It appears something went wrong.”
Capital Weather Gang
7:10 p.m.
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Pilot received clearance to fly in poor conditions

Shortly before the helicopter crashed Sunday morning, the pilot was approved for what’s known as special visual flight rules, according to audio reviewed by The Washington Post.

In the recording, the pilot requests to fly under the special conditions.

The Burbank tower controller responds that it will be a few moments and asks the helicopter to hold. Seconds later, the controller tells the pilot that he can plan to transition to the north side of the Van Nuys airport. He tells the pilot that several departures are coming off a runway and to “expect to follow the I-5 north and cross that way.”

6:39 p.m.
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Senate chaplain mentions Bryant at impeachment trial

Bryant’s tragic death continues to resonate far beyond the sports world. His memory was invoked at the start of the impeachment trial in Washington by the Senate chaplain, as the day’s proceedings got underway.

“As millions mourn the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and those who died with them, we think about life’s brevity, uncertainty and legacy,” said Barry C. Black, in leading the chamber in prayer. “Remind us that we all have a limited time on earth to leave the world better than we found it. As this impeachment process unfolds, give our senators the desire to make the most of their time on earth. Teach them how to live, oh God, and lead them along the path of honesty.”

Senate chaplain Barry Black mentioned Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a prayer before the Senate impeachment trial on Jan. 27. (The Washington Post)
5:54 p.m.
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Bryant sought to trademark ‘Mambacita’

Kobe Bryant had big plans for Gianna, who hoped to follow his sneaker steps into basketball stardom. Less than a month before the two died, Bryant filed a trademark application for “Mambacita,” a play on his famous “Black Mamba” nickname. The application was filed Dec. 30 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.